By Keith Idec
NEW YORK — Yuriorkis Gamboa is the opponent many boxing enthusiasts envision Nonito Donaire eventually fighting.
Donaire, however, is focused on overcoming Omar Narvaez on Oct. 22 in The Theater at Madison Square Garden and then testing himself at 122 pounds. “The Filipino Flash” said during a press conference this week for the Narvaez fight that, assuming he wins, he expects his next bout to come against the Rafael Marquez-Toshiaki Nishioka winner.
Mexico’s Marquez (40-6, 36 KOs) will challenge Japan’s Nishioka (38-4-3, 24 KOs) for the WBC super bantamweight title Oct. 1 in Las Vegas.
“I want the best out there and that’s one thing [Top Rank is] going to deliver, the best out there,” Donaire said. “They’re starting off after this fight with the winner of Marquez-Nishioka. Depending on how I do with the 122 guys, I might move up to 126 and you’ve got Gamboa, JuanMa and all those other guys.”
Gamboa (21-0, 16 KOs) said after his technical decision win against Daniel Ponce De Leon (41-4, 34 KOs) on Sept. 10 in Atlantic City that he was finished fighting at 126 pounds because he has had too much trouble getting to the featherweight limit. The talented Cuban boxer’s next fight will come at junior lightweight, perhaps as high as lightweight.
Donaire understands how Gamboa feels.
At 28, he’s having much more trouble getting down to 118 pounds these days. That’s why his defense of the WBC and WBO bantamweight titles against Narvaez will mark his last bout at that weight.
“I think that 122 has better opportunities out there,” Donaire said. “I just want to keep moving, see where it takes me. But definitely, 122 is a lot easier for me than being at 118. I can see myself, if I want to move up to 126, seeing how I fare against 122-pound fighters.”
Meanwhile, Argentina’s Narvaez (35-0-2, 19 KOs) will make his debut at 118 pounds against Donaire (26-1, 18 KOs), who has cracked the top five on most mythical pound-for-pound lists since demolishing Mexico’s Fernando Montiel (46-3-2, 36 KOs) in their bantamweight championship unification fight seven months ago in Las Vegas. The unbeaten Narvaez, 36, was the WBO flyweight champion for seven years, from 2002-2009, but the southpaw won the WBO super flyweight championship 16 months ago and has defended that title three times.
“He’s a champion, but I’ve faced many champions before,” Donaire said. “I want to be victorious coming out of that fight. I know I have the advantage in terms of height and speed and overall skills, but he does have the advantage in experience. You just go out there and do your best.”
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, NJ., and BoxingScene.com.